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Exclusive: LA Knight Is Not In WWE To Just 'Be A Background Guy'

We caught up with LA Knight for an exclusive interview where he talked about his climb to the top of WWE. 

By Ethan Absler
La Knight talking into a mic

LA Knight currently finds himself in one of the most precarious and least envious spots on the WWE roster: Under Bray Wyatt's eye. Despite being brutally attacked backstage, possibly by Wyatt, who is vehemently denying the attack, LA Knight is not intimidated. The former Million Dollar Champion signed with WWE for his second time in February 2021 after a brief run in NXT in 2013. Since then, Knight has been moving full-speed ahead with various high-profile feuds on NXT television before debuting on SmackDown in January 2022. 

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Although Knight only spent a single year in NXT, he made a huge impact on the WWE Universe. He is one of the most universally popular stars in WWE and has the look and skills to be a top guy in the industry. Luckily, USA Insider found a quick second to exclusively catch up with the busy Superstar to talk about his whirlwind of a WWE run so far, changing from his male model gimmick back to LA Knight, and what his goals are for the future. 

We began our conversation at the beginning of his second WWE run and debut on NXT. Knight acknowledged that he was only in NXT for a year, but that was plenty of time to establish himself as a top guy and participate in some of the most interesting storylines in WWE today. 

“NXT was a fun and wild ride,” LA Knight said with a laugh. “Obviously this was my second time around. The first time, I butted heads with the former head coach, but now coming back this time around, it was just a better understanding of each other and who I was and who I was working with I guess to some degree. This time things were just streamlined and it made the process in NXT really good and flourish creatively if you will!”

Knight’s NXT career didn’t feel rushed, but it did feel fast. In just one year, the veteran held Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Championship, participated in marquee storylines on NXT TV, and competed for the NXT Championship. 

“I mean bringing back Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Championship ... I mean that's crazy! It’s a championship that only what, maybe five or six guys in total have ever held and now you’re being told that it’s going to be introduced and up for grabs — that was pretty wild. Then you go into the fall and the winter and all of a sudden the crowd is starting to jump on my side. It was just a good, amazing ride. It was quick, it was only a year, but man, NXT is something I’m going to remember for a long time.” 

After his short but successful run in NXT, Knight debuted on SmackDown, but with one big change. He was no longer LA Knight, but now going by the name Max Dupri. Dupri was managed by the villainous Maxxine and joined by two other developmental Superstars Mace and Mansoor, now going by “Maçé” and “Månsôör.” The group was a faction of models and even had a live application to join their modeling agency on the internet, which received tens of thousands of submissions from the WWE Universe. 

Despite the gimmick having some success, fans couldn’t shake the fact that they were invested in LA Knight and not Max Dupri. Knight is aware how much one of the characters was obviously a better fit than the other. 

“There was an NXT built-in audience that knew who LA Knight was. So now here comes this other character being introduced and so for those people, it was like, ‘Wait, what is this?’” Knight explained. “But when you look at the numbers of a SmackDown audience, for a large swath of those people, they are seeing me for the first time. So I could’ve been Joe Shmoe for all it matters. In a strange sense, that would have actually worked just because three quarters of that audience is seeing me for the first time regardless of who I am. At the same time though, I think there is a matter of the shoe fitting and not.

"I will make any [character] work, but when it comes down to it, there was one that was way more ‘me’ than the other one," he added with a laugh.

The 20-year veteran has wrestled for companies all around the world, but has never faced anybody like Bray Wyatt. The rivalry between the two is slowly reaching a boiling point, with LA Knight suffering a vicious attack backstage two weeks ago at the hands of an unknown perpetrator. The leading suspect, however, is Bray Wyatt. 

“Working with Wyatt is a unique challenge in the sense that you’ve got two diametrically opposed personalities. You have two very different approaches to what we do and in a strange way, it almost brings together a beautiful symphony so to speak, just because of the contrasting way we do things. At the same time, those contrasting pieces can mesh together into something that’s pretty creatively satisfying and so far so good,” said Knight, who clearly isn’t intimidated by Wyatt’s actions. 

Despite not being scared of Wyatt, he does have to keep his head on a swivel.

“I think it’s pretty clear [who attacked me]. Look at all the little symbols and the Fiend masks and that kind of stuff. As far as I can tell, that seems to be all along his lines. It seems to fit his M-O,” he explained. 

Despite being stalked by a crazed Wyatt (allegedly), LA Knight says he’s still having a great time at work and is enjoying the new vibe of WWE. Although there’s a major influx of new management and new talent, Knight pointed out how the main roster isn’t all that much different from his days in NXT. 

“In a strange way, a lot of the changes are more of the same for me. You look and it’s a lot of the same people I was working with in NXT and working with Triple H. Again, this is taking me back to NXT so in a weird way, the more it changes, the more it stays the same,” Knight said. “I think the change has been smooth, it’s been good and you can see the little bit of evolution through the process, but so far, I’m very happy with the way things are going in that regard.” 

We ended our conversation by talking about what LA Knight wants to do next. What are his goals for his current run with WWE and if it was up to him, what would LA Knight like to do? Well, he says he has never been in this business just to “be happy to be here” and wants to be a top player in the business. 

“Oh man, I mean look. I’ve never been in this business to be a background guy. I’ve never been in this to just be happy to be here. To me, legit, I’m sitting here in my office right now looking at my past accomplishments. I’m looking at past championships that are framed on my wall and my eyes are on the top prizes. My eyes somewhere down the road are looking at the Intercontinental Championship, the United States Championship, and beyond even that, I’m looking at the Universal Championship, the WWE Championship and things like that. Now, how and when we get there, we will see. But that’s my future focus almost singularly and laser-like," he said.

You can rewatch all of your favorite LA Knight moments on the WWE Network on Peacock, including the month in which Cameron Grimes was forced to be his personal butler in NXT!

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